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Western Australia Department Shifts to Open Source Database Management

The Department of Education and Training (DET) in Western Australia has gone live with an open source data management system that uses Ingres Database, an open source database management technology. The solution powers a range of applications to manage administrative activities and programs delivered by 11 colleges and 8,000 staff throughout the state. The systems also collectively manage a million student records, with 120,000 students processed through the state`s training systems annually.

The project teamed internal technical staff with consultants from Ingres' Consulting Services. The work included consolidation of database and application servers from across the state into a single data center with five physical servers running 11 Ingres databases and 31 supporting server instances. The new environment was built on "commodity" hardware running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The previous solution ran what DET called "proprietary hardware and software." "It was proprietary across the board, and we paid handsomely for whatever support we got," said Anthony Nocciolino, manager for learning technologies with DET. "As we have made the transition away from heavily policy-driven systems to more customer-focused systems, we recognized that we needed agility that we could not get in a proprietary environment. So we chose open source and Ingres."

The initiative used Ingres .NET Connector to channel data into the new databases from client applications--including enrollment, resource management, timetabling, student fees, assessments, results, and Web course catalogs. That prevented users from experiencing downtime in service during the migration.

"We knew the new environment would provide a huge gain in performance as a byproduct, but our main goal was simply to move away from proprietary solutions and centralize our infrastructure," said Darren Pointer, coordinator of technology systems. "Ingres has always provided very good service, and provided solid and consistent support throughout the project. In the end, it has given us a stable environment, which is essential given that our enrollment and other core systems all run off this platform."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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